Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Friday 4th August


Juvenile Kestrel, Felbrigg Lake, this morning – one of two fledged locally

The birding excitement of the past few days has now died down and it’s back to the more mundane. My morning walk around the lake produced very little of note. There were a couple of Sand Martin and a Swift hawking insects over the water meadow. The female Gadwall was with forty or so moulting Mallard – no sign of the Mandarin though. I do keep missing it! There were a couple of approachable juvenile Kestrel sitting on the fence posts, east of the lake. A few Gatekeeper butterflies warming themselves in the morning sun, along The Street, was the only insect interest.

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Thursday 3rd August

The Quail, first heard mid-afternoon on Tuesday, was joined later that evening by up to three other birds (Tim & Dawn and Lee)! My guess is that these were probably reasonably local breeding birds, disturbed by the nearby harvesting activity. One bird was still present and calling, between the set-aside and adjacent cereal field, yesterday morning. I’ve heard no over-night reports and there was no sign or sound this morning – they may have moved on. Speaking of moving on, I saw two Swifts over The Street yesterday, but they too seem to have gone – the last of our resident breeding birds?

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Tuesday 1st August



 Unfortunately you rarely see Quail in this country – photo taken from the internet

Just when I was beginning to think it’d all become a little too predictable on the birding front – bam – a calling Quail in the set-aside field behind the village pond this afternoon! I’d decided to go and look for dragonflies at the pond – hopeful of finding Willow Emerald. I was half way along the roadside edge of the pond when I thought I heard a Quail call. I eventually persuaded myself that I must have imagined it, and carried on. I cut through on the path leading back to the set-aside field and it called again. I stopped to listen and it called a third time – no doubts. Unfortunately I’d left home without my phone, so I had to hurry back to text a few people and put it on the NENBC website. I returned shortly before half past three and, over the next half an hour, it called seven times. It was only after then that Phil and then Carol & Ken arrived. Fortunately it did give a couple more calls before falling silent. This was an NENBC and parish tick for me!

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Thursday 27th July


Adult Little Grebe skips across Felbrigg Lake – first I’ve seen here since early May

The last couple of morning walks around the park have been pretty dull – bird, not weather, wise. Not much has caught my attention and I keep missing out on the Mandarin, which has been reported now several times over the past few days. There’s still a few bits of interest on the lake – the female Gadwall and lone Coot remain, and this morning, the adult Little Grebe reappeared. This is my first sighting since early May – no sign of any youngsters though. There were a couple of Mistle Thrush in the dead tree by the out-flow sluice and the usual post-breeding gathering of Goldfinch – currently a flock of around fifty. I couldn’t but help notice that there’s been another unfortunate outbreak of habitat destruction near the sluice – most of the bramble scrub has been removed, leaving this sheltered corner now very exposed!


The missing Mandarin (photo courtesy of Richard Farrow) – female or possibly a juvenile?

taken by Richard Farrow

On my way past the water meadow, a Common Buzzard being mobbed by a Kestrel – seen exiting top left


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Monday 24th July


Record shot of recently fledged Spotted Flycatcher, Felbrigg Park

Yesterday afternoon I took a quick spin around the lake, dodging the showers. I was hoping to see the Mandarin, reported by Richard and Di on Friday, which, from the photo on the NENBC website, looks like a possible juvenile. Unfortunately there was no sign – the Coot was still present however, as was the female Gadwall. As I stood on the eastern edge scanning the lake I noticed movement in the Alders behind the reed bed. It turned out to be an adult Spotted Flycatcher. I continued to watch and eventually located a static juvenile and another adult. Later, along the path through the shelter-belt, I found another adult – suggesting two pairs, as in previous years. For the 15 minutes or so I was stood by the lake a Water Rail (possibly two) was occasionally squealing. Mid-summer records of this species are rare.



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Sunday 23rd July


Whimbrel – alas, not taken locally

I was sat at my computer this morning when I heard the unmistakable call of a Whimbrel, flying overhead. I dashed outside but couldn’t see the bird, the noise however moved further away, towards Felbrigg Park. It occurred to me that I’d had a similar experience last year and, on checking my notes, discovered that I’d had a Whimbrel flying along the Cromer Ridge, calling on 22nd July 2016, amazing!